RICHLANDS, VA – MARCH 22, 2022 – Seeking to capitalize on the growing tourism industry in Southwest Virginia’s e-Region, Appalachian Adventures & Outfitters, Inc., opened its UTV rental business in Richlands, Va., not far from the entrance to Spearhead Trails’ Jawbone Trail.
Appalachian Adventures & Outfitters, Inc., is a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) seed capital matching grant.
The business, co-owned by brothers, Brad Ratliff and Brian Ratliff and Brian’s daughter, Brianna Ratliff, offers rentals in four and eight-hour segments and is also developing plans to offer guided tours of the trails. Kayak rentals are planned for later this spring. Southwest Virginia regional memorabilia, Spearhead Trails permits and memorabilia and custom-made knives are available in the business shop, as are Tazewell County-made Blue Wolf cleaning products and outdoor gear and snacks.
“As the tourism economy in Southwest Virginia’s e-Region continues to grow, VCEDA is pleased to see business ventures like Appalachian Adventures & Outfitters step up to add services to the economy and create additional jobs,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “Appalachian Adventures & Outfitters projects two full-time jobs and three part-time jobs within the first year.”
Brad Ratliff noted the new business has six Polaris UTV SxS machines available for rent – two of which are four-seaters. Half-day and full-day rentals are available. Four-seaters are $375 plus tax for a half day; or $495 plus tax for a full day. Two-seater rentals are $325 plus tax for a half day; or $450 plus tax for a full day.
Additionally, riders who just need helmets can rent them for $10 a day. Guide service for a trail ride, booked in advance, is offered for $150 per hour. Also available is the rental of a Go-Pro camera to record trail experiences. The Go-Pro rental is $25 and the purchase of the SD card they later take home with them on which to record those memories is $10 or customers may opt to provide their own SD card.
“Tourism is a growth industry throughout the Southwest Virginia region,” Ratliff said. “Thanks to the advent of the Southwest Regional Recreation Authority, also known as Spearhead Trails, adventure tourism has grown exponentially during the past five years.”
In deciding to open the new business, Ratliff said among the considerations was the fact that the nearest ATV/UTV rental group was located in Pocahontas, more than an hour away and it was not connected with the Jawbone Trail. Appalachian Adventure’s location, on Rt. 460, is directly across from the Jawbone Trail system trailhead.
“The VCEDA money truly helped us survive the winter,” Ratliff said of the seed capital grant. “We were able to use the grant as working capital to give us a leg up to the start of the season this spring. The biggest challenge to this business is that it is capital intensive due to machine cost and parts.”
The business is open year-round and takes bookings through its website at www.appalachianadventures.net.
The Ratliffs worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.
“Sometimes entrepreneurs just need to know where to look for assistance,” said Margie Douglass, SBDC program manager at SWCC. “The management of Appalachian Adventures and Outfitters, Inc., had the expertise, but needed to identify relevant funding resources for starting their ATV rental and retail business near the Jawbone Trail of the Spearhead Trail System. With the right combination of resources, which includes the $10,000 VCEDA Seed Capital Matching fund award, the owners, Bradley, Brianna and Brian Ratliff are creating jobs and economic impact for our community.”
Appalachian Adventures & Outfitters is located at 5894 Gov. G C Peery Hwy (Rt. 460) in Richlands, Va.. and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Interested persons may also find them on Facebook, through the business website or may reach them by calling 276.779.4343.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.